Rupert Murdoch says tablets spell the end of the laptop; is he right?

Sections: iPad, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Laptops, Macintosh/Apple Hardware

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The DailyPaidContent reports that News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch, in an interview last week with Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto, predicted that everyone in America who can afford one will buy a tablet, and vertured the opinion that “this is the end of the laptop,” musing about the irony of the man who invented the personal computer, then the laptop (Steve Jobs), has now become the agent of “destroying them.”

Much as I admire and respect Rupert Murdoch’s many accomplishments, and would never contradict his business judgment lightly, I don’t anticipate the iPad killing off the laptop (or, for that matter the laptop killing the desktop—at least completely—in the near to mid-term future.)

However, it’s inevitable that the iPad will bleed off a proportion of device sales that would otherwise have likely gone to laptops, or in some instances even consumer desktops. Of course this is already happening with PC laptops—especially netbooks—whose sales have been decimated by (presumably) the iPad tsunami. On the other hand, interestingly, Apple’s own laptops are enjoying record sales, driven particularly by the new MacBook Air’s popularity.

But heck, I want an iPad myself (I’m waiting for version 2), even though I’m a consummate laptop fan. With the price of conventional paper and ink magazines skyrocketing, I perceive the much more economical alternative of electronic subscriptions will become increasingly attractive and more dominant, with Mr. Murdoch’s new $0.99 per week “The Daily” e-newspaper being an emblematic case in point. The tablet makes a much more comfortable and convenient and versatile medium for relaxed reading for pleasure than does a laptop.

However, at least in its current and foreseeable future iterations, I simply can’t take the iPad seriously as a substitute for a real laptop as a content creation and production device. I’ll revisit that assessment if the iPad ever supports real multitasking, a Finder-type file directory, standard USB I/O, a mouse driver, decent storage capacity, and so forth, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for that, and anticipate using real laptops as my primary work tools and content creatiion platforms for years to come.

On the other hand, I left desktop computers behind a decade ago, and haven’t missed them, so never say never. I expect that Steve Jobs is right that the MacBook Air, more iPad-like than any previus Apple laptop, is a bellwether of the laptop’s future.

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  • RayCon

    Tablets will no more replace the laptop than TV spelled the doom of radio or the VCR spelled the end of the movie theater. Each has its up side and down side, and each has its place in the scheme of things.